Tue Dec 21, 2010
It's been a bad year. Ok, we had an awesome Meatwave season, tons of excellent food, and I got to enjoy it all with my best friends. So I guess I had a pretty great year, but what I meant to say is, I've been bad. I've reached the point in my life where I can no longer eat whatever the hell I want without it adversely affecting my waist line and overall health. I came to realize this last year, but still went about this past year with little care into what I was putting into my stomach, and I've rightfully come out with pants that no longer fit and shirts that now accentuate some not-so-pleasant features. Next yea will be different (easy to say that now), but with the holidays and an extended stay in Houston on the horizon, there's no point in taking corrective measures quite yet. So from now until the end of the year, bring on the smoked, grilled, and fried, I'm here and ready to devour it all!
Fried foods and barbecue just pair well, fat loves fat I guess. With a mushroom adverse past, I would never have fried mushrooms as a perfect side, but boy does the wife love these, and whatever the wife likes with her barbecue is most certainly the right stuff. So it's come that fried mushrooms are not just another side or appetizer for smoked meat, they're one of the most sought after in my house.
Frying tends to be essentially the same for a lot of things, you batter and fry. What I love is how little variations make a big difference in this equation. Just like we've learned that pickles are great with a cornmeal crust, mushrooms really like buttermilk, which is applied after a first coating of my standard flour, paprika, and cayenne mixture. A second roll in the flour then creates the perfect amount of batter to encase the little buttons.
Bubbling in sea of hot oil, in only takes minutes for the mushrooms to brown and crisp. Watching this transformation is awe inspiring, a food stuff that is so blah in my mind becomes something I want to shovel into my mouth. I even begin to feel the everyday enthusiasm my wife has for eating a fungus.
A quick drain and sprinkle of salt and pepper and these bad boys are ready to roll. The hot crunch has a creaminess that enhances the flavor and texture of the softened mushroom, which I attribute mainly to the buttermilk. A little heat from the cayenne comes through, not creating a kick so much, but a flavor that takes a step up from just plain flour. I would be chastised if I weren't to mention that a side of ranch for dipping is a must, without it, they just wouldn't be our fried mushrooms.
As I look forward to next year, I'm not seeing a future without fried mushrooms and other sinful indulgences, but just a scaling back. For example, this plate could surely feed four, if not six, people as an appetizer, yet between me and the wife, we finished it all (and yes, It was mostly my doing) and then chased it with a whole rack of ribs. If I can just learn to either cook smaller portions, eat less, or both, I think I'll be headed to a good start, but boy is it going to be hard when I know how good things can be.
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup buttermilk
8 oz small button mushrooms, scrubbed clean
Vegetable oil for frying
Freshly ground black pepper
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Pout the buttermilk into a separate medium bowl.
2. Fill a high sided skillet, preferably cast iron, with 1 inch of vegetable oil. Heat the oil over medium heat to 375 degrees. Lin
3. Coat mushrooms in flour mixture, then dip into buttermilk. Coat again in the flour mixture and place in the oil, making sure not to crowd the pan. Fry until golden brown on one side, 2 to 3 minutes, flip and continue cooking until browned on the other side, 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove the mushrooms to wire rack placed on top of a paper towel lined baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.